By Barb Arland-Fye
Obituaries have always fascinated me because of the synopsis they provide of an individual’s life.
Perusing a recent edition of the daily newspaper, I stopped when I read this delightful observation in Mary “Tootie” Nickles’ obituary: “If there’s a Singer sewing machine and craft room in Heaven, Mary is there. She loved to sew, and was very creative. She could make something out of nothing. Gardening was another of her passions. She could stick anything in the ground and it would grow.”
It seems that Tootie, a member of St. Mary Parish in Davenport, also loved to laugh and had a good sense of humor, as noted in her obituary. What a wonderful way to be remembered. I get the impression that Tootie loved deeply and was deeply loved in return. Her goodness apparently lives on in her loved ones who remain behind and remembered her so fondly in this obituary.
No one’s life is perfect, but the qualities by which we are remembered says a lot about the kind of life we live and the legacy we leave.
I remember reading an article, probably in the 1990s, about super moms who strove to break through the glass ceiling of corporate America and still have time to bond with their children and spouses and make time for volunteer activities. These moms were of my generation, girls who grew up believing that the world was our oyster. We could do anything we set our minds to, with good time management skills and supportive families.
One thing that lingers in my mind from that article is that some older children felt short-changed because of the time they missed with their mothers.
As a long-time reporter and editor, I missed plenty of dinner hours with my family because of breaking news or to finish a story on deadline. I stepped down from a mid-level management position to a reporting position at the daily paper I worked at to make more time for my family. I’m grateful I did.
For the last seven years, I’ve worked as editor of The Catholic Messenger, which because of its weekly deadlines allows me more opportunities to make it home for dinner. Still, in many ways, my career is a defining part of my life. I love the work, and I love my family.
Now, with a son who turns 15 today and another one who is 22, I wonder about their defining memories. Years from now, will they remember how much I loved them even if I didn’t know how to operate a sewing machine, had a brown thumb and let their dad do the cooking? Will they remember the hugs and the homework help, the mad dashes to the school gym for a holiday program, band concert or basketball game?
Will they remember how we prayed together each night before bed and continue that tradition as adults? Will they be faith-filled men who make the Catholic Church an integral part of their life?
But whatever goodness they remember about me isn’t nearly as important as the goodness they carry on.